Ofsted will consider scrapping ‘outstanding’ grade, says new chief inspector

Ofsted will consider scrapping its controversial ‘outstanding’ grade, the new chief inspector has told MPs.

Amanda Spielman, who has been selected by the government to succeed Sir Michael Wilshaw when his term ends at the end of the year, told MPs on the education select committee this morning that she wanted to have “discussions” about scrapping the grade when she starts in January.

Asked by committee chair Neil Carmichael for her personal view on the grade, which was held by 12 per cent of schools as of December last year, the Ofqual chair admitted she was “quite uncomfortable” about “some of the effects I see it having in the system”.

When pressed specifically on whether she would like to see the grade scrapped, she said: “It’s something I would like to see fully discussed.”

The outstanding grade has been criticised for giving a false impression of the schools labelled with it, and putting unnecessary pressure on improving schools which should instead be focused on reaching a “good” grade 2 result to satisfy the government.

Leaders have also expressed fears that the rating favours schools in less disadvantaged communities, as schools in more deprived communities often struggling more than institutions in other areas to reach the benchmarks needed to get a grade 1.

During the hearing, which is a statutory part of the recruitment process, Spielman also responded to criticism of her lack of teaching experience after MPs discussed the concerns of teachers who had written to them.

She accused some teaching unions of being “opposed in principle to the existence of a chief inspector” and said there had been a “huge amount of positive reaction” to her selection, including from the likes of the Association of School and College Leaders and National Association of Headteachers.

“It’s something that will always be there, that I haven’t been a teacher,” said Spielman, who insisted that the inspectorate had “moved away from telling teachers how to do their jobs”, and that the role of chief inspector was “not about being a superhead” – a term often used to describe her predecessor.

Spielman also sought to draw a line between her and Wilshaw on leadership style, claiming that although she would not be afraid to criticise government policy or indeed say anything at all, provided that what she says is “grounded in evidence” held by Ofsted.

MPs will now report back on Spielman’s appearance and make a recommendation to the government on whether or not she should be appointed.

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  1. amanda coates

    I am not opposed to scrapping the Outstanding Grade even being rated an Outstanding Childminder myself, but I do feel the need to recognise those of us who go over and above to provide the best Childcare and Early Education Possible (Requires improvement, Good and Exceeding Levels?).

    • My school the children make outstanding progress but the school would struggle to be outstanding because they don’t all reach the benchmark. So I think it would be fair to scrap outstanding.

    • Here here totally agree.I am a childminder had outstanding twice now and my setting and all the work I have achieved with the little ones is outstanding and I am very proud to say it. Don’t understand enough about schools so cannot comment.

  2. Michelle Feast

    Yes I agree as the difference in people’s minds between Good compared with Outstanding is too much of gap. We as Good could be almost as good as those rated outstanding but that’s probably not how it’s perceived.

  3. kimberley

    I think scrap I,t every inspector is different one will give you met another good and another outstanding if they inspected you on the same day. Also they only see that day not every over day before and after the inspection. No two days are the same. Do we have to keep our fingers crossed that children will be angels and listen on that day and nothing goes wrong. Or thank god that they were great for the inspection. If there are problems in a setting parents will report them staff will report them give the children a hot line they will report them. Inspectors will never get a true inspection done in reality not in just one day every 3 years plus. Time to realistic and fare.

    • I am a childminder had outstanding twice.On the day of my inspection everything went wrong terrible day I had three children and not one of them was happy that day usually they are fantastic well behaved children must of been something in the air lol. At the end of the inspection the inspector said she was very very impressed how I dealt with every situation I dealt with and trust me it was not easy especially when normally you have well behaved children. I am proud of my setting and proud of my outstanding grade. I work hard now inspections with childminders is observing you with the children. I run my business keep good clear records working with parents and other agencies,etc So I don’t believe what happens on the day effects your grade it’s up to us as professionals to deal what is happening at that time the proof is in the pudding.I get fed up of other childminders.saying it’s because they have perfect paper work nothing too do with it at all load of rubbish yes I do have perfect paper work children have lovely learning journeys.But when it comes down to it its the care you give the children ofsted inspectors have a criteria what they must follow for every childminder and school.My last inspection was May 2016

  4. Simply scrap it asap….it should not have been there in the first place.
    Grading schools does not help the education of children and moreover it undermines the hard work we teachers put in every day. its simply fear tactics rather than having your trust on the professionals. the mutual trust between the ofsted and down the line the management and teachers at grass root level teaching 20-25 lessons a week will foster better and happy teaching and learning environment. when u r happy u give lot more than expected and that will be quality teaching not for the sake of getting a grade on a particular day. We may look at other smaller countries who are doing so well compared to England with much less money. Do not make schools like corporate banks.

  5. Liz Hinds

    OFSTED inspection is such a farce. Grading is dependent on the DAY, the INSPECTOR and God know what else. Quite a few of us work our socks off to get outstanding and take our level of care seriously for the children we look after. But most times that is overlooked as the emphasis is on paperwork, paperwork. Where has the true care for our children gone, OFSTED has taken it away and exchange it with virtual paper care.
    So many of us has stressed ourselves to the point of illness to achieve good and above and feels a bit knocked down when you get some silly wording like THIS SETTING IS NOT YET OUT AND ING BECAUSE….. which in a lot of ways contradicts the body of the report.
    Outstanding is a good achievement but should not be the benchmark to aspire to while true care and value for our children are overlooked.

    Rant Rant Childminder

  6. Liz Hinds

    Mary Henson congratulations on receiving Outstanding. No doubt you have worked hard to get it and that’s commendable but you yourself said about paperwork “nothing to do with it all, a load of rubbish and also that you do have perfect paperwork. I find that an unfair statement to make as many of us as childminders, nurseries and schools knows that if on the day our paperwork is weak or in fact if your paperwork was weak the final judgement would have been different. Also another inspector maybe would have viewed how you deal with the situation with the children differently.
    On the day of inspection inspectors knows that majority of settings stage for them, activities are staged, responses are stage and so on and so they know that one days obs cannot reflect true quality of care we have to back this up with paperwork.
    Any congratulations again. Well done.